ARMADILLO by Morning, or My first encounter with Southern Wildlife.
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Camping in Clermont Florida
My wife and I have spent years traveling around the US in our Motorhome and along the way we have observed a number of strange sights.
One Winter, a couple of years ago, we were camped in a nice campground in Clermont Florida, not far from Orlando.
It was early afternoon and my wife and I had just returned from spending a couple of hours at the Swimming Pool,
The weather was nice, so we had stretched out in our lounge chairs beside the RV, beer in hand, We were just Chillin’ and then I noticed a movement out of the corner of my eye and directly behind my RV.
At first, just I said the Hell with it. I was comfortable and whatever it was that I saw move was not going to get me to put my beer down, leave my comfortable chair just to walk around the RV and find nothing there..
But, you know what they say about curiosity?
That movement, by something, stayed there at the edge of my brain, just nibbling on my consciousness, until I realized that I would have no rest until I saw what was back there, behind my RV.
At this point, I should have had a cinematic flashback, because this was kind of like one of the basic rules of what not to do in a Scary Movie!
You know, investigate the unknown movement!
Camping in the land of Disney
OK, OK, The title of my story is a little cheeky, but I just couldn't help myself. I had to use it.
Now on to the subject at hand.
I'm retired and we travel around the country a lot in our RV.
We love to travel and find an interesting area for us to explore. Then we can park our camper there for a few weeks and turn our new temporary home into a place of adventure and surprises.
Eventually, once have exhausted our new areas surprises for us, we pull up the proverbial tent (my RV), and move on to another interesting place.
Sometimes, we find something truly unique that forces me to write; a Poem, a Short Story, even a photographic tour, or whatever strikes me.
And whether the visit to the area was good or bad, long or short, I share the results with you; ‘O Ye Hapless Reader’ that you are.
This time, as I have said, we were in a campground in Clermont, Florida, near Orlando.
You know where I am talking about, Orlando, the home of the famous four-fingered smiling mouse that wears white gloves, red shorts and a single suspender to hold his pants up?
Myself? I understand the gloves, kind of ……. Michael Jackson picked up on the idea, and did his thing with a white glove. Of course, he added some sequins and the famous moonwalk to cement a place in "white glove" history.
But the red shorts? I really don't have a clue what old man Disney was smoking when he came up with this combination of clothes …… for a mouse?
Meeting an Armadillo
Anyway, I finally reached the point where I just couldn't accept the suspense of not knowing any more.
So, I reluctantly put my delicious, COLD, beer down and casually sauntered around the RV, and I came face to face with ......
In Florida? And, just a few miles from the Winter home of the great Mouse?
Having lived in Virginia, the Carolina's, and traveled around the world, I have seen a lot of things. But, I had never seen a real live Armadillo.
I was stunned to say the least, finding one of these roaming my campground for crunchy snacks, and walking directly between my legs..
Some people say that they are cute. Some people say they are simply pests that need to be managed, in some way.
Later I found out that these Armadillos; live in the Sunshine state and others across the South. They have sharp claws for digging along with sharp teeth and they subsist mostly on insects,
Also, they are the next best thing to being blind. But at the moment, I had no idea what they were, what they survived on, or how vicious or tame they might be.
The thing at my feet was about a foot long, not counting it's ugly, rat-like tail, and it had a long gray snout that was frantically sucking up ants.
Enjoying a kind of Ant-Tartare buffet, so to speak.
The insulting thing was that he (or she? I had no idea how to tell, and I wasn’t about to investigate.) didn’t even look up at me, and I was standing less than three feet away.
It just kept on devouring the ants; a true armored eating machine.
But, after watching it for several minutes, the lack of respect for me …… you know …… as the big bad human being, kind of made me mad.
So I turned and went back into the RV, grabbed my trusty camera, and returned to the Armadillo and his feast, to record this arrogant pests presence.
Amazing Armadillos Book
As I made the turn around the rear of the RV, I looked and there my new friend was, about ten feet away, still busily eliminating ants for the good of mankind.
I walked right up to him this time and took a few close-up shots of him.
I was fully expecting him to run at the sight of me, or at least at the sound of my camera shutter, like all the other good self-respecting animals that I had taken pictures of in the past.
By now, you see, I was really upset with this shelled cretin.
So I figured that I would just keep taking shots, as I bent and moved the camera closer and close. At some point, I guessed that would have invaded his territory, and he would then, of course, run.
Thus, he would finally be showing me my due respect as the superior being on this planet.
I was finally close enough that the Armadillo filled the whole frame of the camera when, suddenly, he turned and looked straight at me.
Now, when you look at an Armadillo in a magazine or on TV, it is a pretty harmless looking, even though ugly, animal.
Too Close for Comfort
But, when you look at one of them, full-framed, through a camera lens, with all of the resultant detail these animals are a different thing all together.
And, when one of them turns, slowly, towards you, like this one did, the look in it's dim eyes seemed to say …. I wonder ….. what does one of those taste like?
Well, when that happens, survival instincts take over and you jump.
And for me that meant jump back, and away from the perceived threat.
And I did!
Jump! That is!
And I landed ….. on my ample Ass, and sat there spread-eagled in the sandy Florida dirt, and watched this Jimmy Durante of ant eaters, meander ..... slowly ..... towards me.
Hungrily even, it seemed!
I decided it was time to drag my old butt up from the ground and put some distance between myself and this strange inverted ashtray with four-fingered feet, and it's very sharp looking teeth, I had just noticed.
Note the four fingers? A distant relative of the great Mouse? From the wrong side of the tracks, perhaps? I suspect so!
Anyway, I made it to my feet in a flash (for me that is), and gathered myself, ready to perform a good, old-fashioned, Armadillo ass-kicking.
So I stooped to grab it, strategically, of course, by the tail, and toss it to the winds.
That was my sub-conscious plan I guess!
There was no real forethought on my part, just a primitive call to action of some kind.
But I will never know what might have happened next.
Because right at that moment, another hapless ant walked by my Armadillo friend and he blindly but quickly turned and followed it to his next buffet meal.
I realized that I was obviously, just another insignificant shadow-caster in the world of this blind, armor-plated rat with a long nose.
What did I do then?
Well, my Beer was still waiting, right beside my lounge chair, and I had some really good shots of an Armadillo, on my camera that I could now show my wife.
Armadillo in hole
© 2010 Don Bobbitt
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